Watching Liquid Sky in Indian Creek Utah
One of the most exhilarating aspects of climbing can be ascending and descending a tower. A couple of weekends ago, Ren Terquile and I headed up to the North Six Shooter desert tower in Indian Creek, UT. On the tower are two classic routes- a 5.11a called the Lighting Bolt Crack, and then an off-width variation called Liquid Sky- 5.11c/d.
The approach is half the battle as it is an adventure to get to these places, get up to the climbs and to meet their various tests. It is a humbling experience for many and a different level of exposure and commitment for most.
That morning at camp, Ren and I got to chatting with Andres, a dynamo Columbian with a penchant for wide crack climbs. He mentioned he was headed up to the Liquid Sky challenge and we said we'd see him up there. Several hours later, Ren and I did the tricky four wheel drive access in - lucky for us, this was his fifth time climbing the tower and so his memory of the access and route served us well.
As we approached the cliffs, we noted the dangling individual, photog Mark Fisher, off the roof of the tower, and above the crux section, in position to shoot Andres on his attempt at Liquid Sky. From our perspective, it looked like a pretty exciting position from which to capture Andres’s progress.
Ren and I assembled our gear, and prepared for our tower approach, a tricky scramble through cliff bands and alleuvial fans. With us were our pets- Scout and Tarzan- both of whom are advancing in age and adventure capabilities. We carefully progressed up the route with awesome views of Andres making his way up the first pitch.
When we arrived to the base of the climb, Andres was belaying his partner, Mary, from the base and had combined two pitches from his anchor position on the face. As Mary moved upwards, Ren and I got ourselves situated for the four pitches ahead and he took off on the first pitch. Due to another party behind us, Ren combined two and half pitches before setting up an anchor to belay me up.
From our anchor at about one hundred and fifty feet up the Lightening Bolt route, we watched Andres maneuver his way through the strenuous and difficult off-width section and crux of the Liquid Sky Variation. There is no better all body work-out then an off-width struggle, and Andres used his strength and incredible off-width technique to flow his way through the challenges of the pitch.
Ren and I progressed upwards through the last two pitches, grunting through the final chimney at the top- giving us a slight taste of Andres’s neighboring route’s adventure. We met up with both him and Mark on the summit, and took in the fabulous views of the Canyonlands, stretching for miles around us, and the abrupt angle of the neighboring South Six Shooter tower from our unique perspective.
Photo credit - Mark Fisher - www.markfisherphoto.com
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